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The NBA regular season may be wrapping up, but that doesn’t mean that the action is done until November. If anything, we’re about to be treated to the best part of the basketball season because the 2021 NBA Playoffs are about to begin.
But if you’re a cord-cutter, you already know that figuring out how to get all the NBA playoff games without paying for traditional cable TV can be a little confusing. There are now tons of popular cable alternatives, and sports fans have a few options to consider. That’s why we’re here with everything you need to know about watching the 2021 NBA Playoffs. Keep reading to find out when they’re scheduled for, what to look out for, and how you can stream the 2021 NBA Playoffs.
When Are the 2021 NBA Playoffs?
The 2021 NBA Playoffs will take part in two phases, beginning with an eight-team play-in tournament that runs from May 14-19, and then the proper 16-team playoffs that run from May 22-July 22.
The NBA play-in tournament takes the four teams seeded seventh through tenth in each conference and has them duke it out for the final two spots in their respective brackets. From there, the playoffs consist of the top eight teams in the Eastern and Western Conference trying to make their way through four grueling seven-game rounds without being knocked off.
What To Expect from the NBA Playoffs?
More than just the competition itself, part of what makes the NBA Playoffs so great are the storylines that surround the players, the team and the league.
- Can LeBron James and Anthony Davis carry the beat-up Lakers to a second consecutive title?
- Can the Nets’ super trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden unlock their limitless potential and deliver Nets fans their first-ever Larry O’Brien trophy?
- Can the Suns and Jazz reclaim their ‘90s glory and make their way to the NBA Finals?
- Can Steph Curry and the Warriors emerge victorious in the play-in tournament and become one of the scariest No. 8 seeds the playoffs have ever seen?
These are just a few of many, many questions floating around the league right now, but if you want to find out the answers, you’re gonna have to watch.
What Channels Are the 2021 NBA Playoffs Airing On?
If you’re wondering what networks carry the NBA playoffs, it’s simple. You can find games airing on the following networks:
- ESPN: In addition to airing games from the play-in tournament and first two rounds, the Western Conference Playoffs will also be aired exclusively on ESPN.
- TNT: Like ESPN, TNT will also be splitting the duties on the early rounds of the playoffs, but will also have exclusive rights to the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
- ABC: Playoff games from the early rounds will air on ABC during the weekends, but once it comes time for the NBA Finals, the network will be the only place you can catch the action.
- NBA TV: It’s unclear how NBA TV will factor in to the 2021 NBA Playoff coverage, but they typically receive a handful of early-round games to broadcast every season.
But while it’s easy to figure out what channels the games are on, what can be tricky is figuring out which streaming services give you access to those channels, and which ones provide the best value. That’s why we’ve rounded up the best services for streaming the 2021 NBA Playoffs.
How To Stream 2021 NBA Playoffs…
You’ve got a few different options for watching the games this year, from comprehensive live TV packages like Sling to more limited options such as ESPN+. For those of you that want to avoid dealing with cable companies altogether, and we don’t blame you, here’s how to stream the 2021 NBA playoffs.
FOR ESPN FANS
For $5.99 a month, you can get access to ESPN Plus which will get you access to every playoff game televised on ESPN and ABC. This not only includes games from every round of the NBA playoffs, but the Western Conference finals will be streamed exclusively on ESPN and the NBA finals will be streamed exclusively on ABC. While this might not get you every single game of the 2021 NBA Playoffs, it will get you many of the most important games at an incredibly affordable price. And on top of that, you’ll get access to a wealth of other sports, including baseball, soccer, football, mma and ESPN’s entire 30 for 30 collection of documentaries.
If you’re looking for the most affordable way to stream TNT during the NBA Playoffs, then you can try Sling TV for 1 month for just 35 cents per day. For NBA Fans, Sling TV’s Orange package is absolutely what you’re looking for. Sling is an app-based Live TV service, so that means that you’ll not only get your fill of Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson Live from TNT’s NBA studio, but you’ll also get ESPN and more than 30 other channels to keep you entertained. Sling TV normally costs $35 a month, but thanks to a special promo offer, you can get your first month for just $10 — or just 35 cents per day — which makes watching the first month of the playoffs an incredible value.
On top of that, if you are watching Sling TV on an Android-powered device or you spring for Sling’s AirTV Mini streaming device, you can also get ABC thanks to special integration with the Locast streaming service. Locast makes broadcast networks in 29 metropolitan markets available to stream for free. And even if you don’t have a device that provides sling integration, you can still access Locast separately to stream many of the NBA Playoffs’ marquee matchups completely free.
NBA League Pass
BEST FOR NBA PLAYOFFS ON-DEMAND
If you know you won’t be able to watch many games as they happen live, you can subscribe to NBA League Pass for the playoffs. Normally NBA League Pass lets you watch every game for every single team live. And while League Pass won’t provide you with live broadcasts of games during the playoffs, it will typically make every playoff game available on-demand a few hours after each game is finished. Sure, other services will also provide on-demand access or let you DVR the games as well, but what they won’t let you do is download the games to your device for offline viewing. That means that if you have a lengthy train commute or spend a lot of time in a place without a great internet connection, you can catch up with NBA Playoff games the day after.
BEST FOR CLASSICS
While NBA TV does not televise a ton of playoff games every year, it does tend to receive a handful of games from the early rounds to broadcast and offers 24/7 analysis of games, teams, players and news around the league. And yes, paying $20 a month for streaming access to NBA TV may seem a little foolish when you can get two months of Sling TV for roughly the same price, but NBA TV does have one very cool value proposition for the playoffs: Every single NBA Finals matchup from the last 20 years is available to stream on-demand.
That means you can watch Shaq and Kobe’s lakers take on Allen Iverson’s Sixers in the 2001 Finals, LeBron and D-Wade’s Heat take on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s Thunder in the 2012 Finals, and Steph Curry’s Warriors reach five consecutive NBA Finals from 2015-2019.
If you want the simplest, all-in-one solution that will let you stream every game of the NBA Playoffs, and you’re willing to splurge a little, Fubo TV is the way to go. While this is the most expensive option on the list at $64.99 a month, the sports-focused Fubo TV will give you access to ESPN, TNT, ABC and NBA TV on your TV, computer or mobile device with no added steps or upgrades. On top of that, you’ll have access to more than 100 other channels across a variety of formats, genres and subjects, which means that it is a viable replacement for cable.